Badals should confess their specific wrong-doings and resign to seek pardon
Chandigarh, December 8: Selfless service (Seva) is part of the Sikh tradition. Hundreds of people perform Seva in the Golden Temple every day and as such, there should be nothing unusual in the Akali leaders being seen cleaning the shoes of the devotees.
However, the visuals today were unusual.
Five-time chief minister and the only Faqr-e-Qaum Panth Rattan Parkash Singh Badal was there sitting amidst shoe racks. Akali Dal president and former deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal was there with unfolded beard along with his relatives and other party leaders was there cleaning shoes.
This 3-day affair coinciding with the Akhand Path at Akal Takht on the birthday of Badal Senior is to seek atonement by the Shiromani Akali Dal for “acts of omission and commission committed wittingly and unwittingly” during the 10 year rule of the party from 2007 to 2017 when it was humiliatingly thrown out by the people. The party is yet to find its moorings in the Sikh religio-political domain from which it had distanced as the ruler.
The basic issue is: Who committed these mistakes, party or specific leaders. Were those mistakes part of the collective decision making by party’s political affairs committee? Were these mistakes bona fide or otherwise?
This has not been clarified.
But then the issues are specific.
The mistakes were committed by these leaders and going by the Sikh Rehat Maryada (Code of conduct), these mistakes can be classified as ‘grave sins’.
The situation has worsened for the Badal family after the release of Justice Ranjit Singh Commission report on issues relating to sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib in 2015. Those incidents started with theft of Guru Granth Sahib from Burj Jawahar Singhwala gurdwara in Faridkot district in once the Akali heartland on June 1. Posters subsequently appeared challenging the Sikhs saying it was hidden in nearby Bargari village. Suddenly, its torn pages were found scattered in the streets of Bargari. All this time, the administration just did nothing.
Angry people resorted to peaceful dharna in protest at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan. Police used force at both the places to loft dharna and two persons were killed in firing from distance of three feet in the process. The FIR relating to police firing was against unidentified policemen.
In between, Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh and his associates were summoned to chief minister’s official residence in brazen violation of Maryada to seek pardon for Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh for his act of blasphemy committed in 2007. Akal Takht had issued directive to the Sikhs after that act for the boycott of Dera Sacha Sauda. This why seeking even covert support for as part of electoral strategy was a sin.
The sin was thus a well-planned move and not unintentional mistake.
This sin is rooted in the electoral strategy that can be traced to 2009 to seek votes of the Dera during 2009 Lok Sabha election. Bathinda, from where Sukhbir’s wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal contested for the first time in 2009, is stronghold of this Dera.
It is the policy of appeasement of this Dera for electoral gains despite edict from Akal Takht that resulted in this religio-political catastrophe in Punjab. Punjab was on the edge following series of incidents of sacrilege.
The cases have been traced after the change of regime and the culprits are linked to Dera Sacha Sauda.
It is not the Akali Dal that finalised the strategy to seek covert support of this Dera although many of the Akali leaders including the present SGPC chief Gobind Singh Longowal had sought this support individually.
Badal Senior was Fakhr-e-Qaum Panth Rattan and Akali Dal patron when he summoned the high priests to his residence where the pardon letter was handed over to them to be released formally.
Both the Badals have been summoned by the special investigating team probing sacrilege related incidents.
The issue here is seeking apology at Akal Takht.
Sikhs in the daily Ardas routinely seek forgiveness for all acts of omission and commission committed consciously or unconsciously. This was the Akali Dal is doing.
The sins are specific and committed by specific leaders.
These leaders should have the moral courage to confess their guilt.
Parkash Singh Badal should surrender his honour of Faqr-e-Qaum Panth Rattan and seek forgiveness.
Akal Takht should admit that the decision to bestow this honour was wrong. It may be mentioned that the honour of Panth Rattan has earlier been bestowed posthumously.
Sukhbir Singh Badal should resign as Akali Dal president and then present himself before the high priests after seeking appointment to atone his sin.
This is the procedure.
Apology without accountability has no meaning.
Moreover, exhibitionism is not part of the Seva.
Akal Takht acting Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh should have the guts to explain this Sikh tradition. Only the Sikh can seek pardon by presenting himself/herself at Akal Takht.